Glamping resort plan in Ancram dead for now

ANCRAM—It appears there won’t be any “glamping” going on at an Iron Star Retreat Center any time soon.

Applicants who hoped to construct, what turned out to be a controversial retreat center at 2450 State Route 82, have asked the Planning Board to withdraw their application without prejudice.

The opposition could not be happier.

Taylor M. Palmer, an attorney with Cuddy + Feder LLP, representing the applicants, sent a December 13 letter to the Ancram Planning Board requesting to withdraw pending applications by RSG Farms, LLC and SSG Farms LLC, for a special use permit, site plan and lot line adjustment. The letter asks the Planning Board to return any unused portion of the money in a consultant review escrow account to the applicants.

Asked by email why the application was withdrawn, Mr. Palmer replied, “Our client does not have any further comment at this time.”

The Planning Board first opened a public hearing on the retreat center, which was to be situated on 146 acres, back in December 2021.

The original proposal included: a five guestroom inn, and the development of four separate lodging cottages (creek houses) for overnight accommodations, including three separate buildings for associated recreational support uses on the east side of the property. Development proposed for the west side of the property consisted of a “glamping” (glamorous camping) area with 22 individual camping structures. The inn would also have a restaurant for patrons utilizing produce from the onsite organic farming operation. Recreational amenities for the commercial retreat would have included massage, horseback riding, swimming (an indoor pool), exercise and art. The camping use would be provided in individual cabins and rustic buildings. Organic farming would utilize open space on the site that has been used historically for farming operations and would also include the construction of two farm-related buildings to support produce processing and equipment storage.

Among the public comments from local residents and neighbors were concerns about water and electric usage, traffic, loss of community character, loss of affordable housing, financial viability, noise, light pollution and impacts on wildlife.

A local group called Rural Ancram (www.rural-ancram.org) emerged in opposition saying the project “would permanently change the rural character of Ancram.”

In response to the comments, and in an effort “to be a good neighbor” the applicant, Iron Star Founder Stacey Shurgin, subsequently submitted a “Reduced Development Proposal” which consolidated the proposed development to 36 acres on the east side of the property. The new proposed action included the adaptive reuse of an existing residence for a five guestroom inn; a public restaurant; an amenity building; four creek houses; four A-frame cabins; and 11 seasonal glamping structures. The proposed action also included a pool, proposed parking areas, access roads, private wells, sewage disposal systems, an infiltration basin, and stormwater management infrastructure that support Iron Star Retreat Center’s facilities, according to the notice of the July 25 public hearing sent out by email by the Planning Board.

The reduced proposal did not seem to quell opposition. The Planning Board hired consultants: Nan Stolzenburg, a planning and environmental consultant; Attorney John Lyons; and Planning Board Engineering Consultant George Schmitt to help members wade through a list of potential adverse impacts to decide what additional information they needed from the Iron Star applicant to address and/or mitigate them.

With the arrival of the withdrawal letter, The Rural Ancram website proclaimed, “Iron Star Is No More!” The message on the website continued to say, “Thank you all for your support and enthusiasm in the effort to keep Ancram Rural.”

Whether the Iron Star Retreat Center proposal will be resubmitted in the future remains to be seen.

To contact Diane Valden email

Kinderhook glamping project also goes away

KINDERHOOK – The minutes for the November Town of Kinderhook Planning Board meeting say that the public hearing on the Sun Communities/Sun Uncharted Kinderhook Resort plan for 58 Orinsekwa Road in Niverville, that the board had been reviewing since July of 2022, was adjourned.

The minutes go on to say, “Formal withdrawal of the application has not been received to date but it is thought that the project is not continuing.”

The minutes of the January 2022 Planning Board meeting show the scope of the proposed Sun resort concept would include a 2,500 sq. ft. clubhouse, pool, fitness and food and beverage area with indoor and outdoor seating. The plan also includes 90 units on approximately 71 acres. The units are of different types, with one called the “Treehouse,” which is elevated. In the renderings, the units have bathrooms and kitchenettes.

Residents had concerns about size of the project, the review process, the zoning laws and the use of the lake. –Emilia Teasdale

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